People watch flames rise from the Assad regime base at Kisweh, where Iranian personnel are reportedly stationed, after claimed Israeli missile strikes, May 8, 2018

Israel reportedly struck Assad regime and Iranian sites in southern Syria on Thursday night, the first Israeli attacks in more than two months.

Local sources indicated that missiles were fired on the bases of Iranian-led foreign militia and Iranian weapons stores. Explosions were reported in and around Damascus, near military positions at the international airport; on the highway between the Syrian capital and Beirut, Lebanon; and in Quneitra Province in southwest Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Pro-Assad media said one of the targets was in the al-Kiswah area of southern Damascus. Israel has periodically attacked the site, claiming that Iran is building a base there.

The Israel Defense Forces conformed to their practice of refusing to comment on the strikes, but denied claims in Russian and pro-Assad media claim that an Israeli plane had been shot down.

“The reports of an Israeli aircraft or other Israeli aerial platform being hit are false,” the IDF said.

The Forces said they were investigating reports of a projectile landing inside the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights: “An aerial defense system identified a single launch toward an open field….At this point it is not clear if there was indeed an impact in our territory.”

1st Strikes in 70+ Days

The last Israeli strikes on pro-Assad targets were in early September. Syrian anti-aircraft defenses accidentally downed a Russian surveillance plane, killing 15 personnel when the Il-24 crashed into the Mediterranean.

The incident raises Russian-Israeli tensions, with Moscow’s Defense Ministry claiming that the Israeli Air Force had acted irresponsibly and with criminal negligence by using the Il-24 as covering for Israel’s F-14 jet fighters. The IDF said their warplanes had left the area off western Syria before pro-Assad forces fired S-200 anti-aircraft missiles.

Russia and Israel maintained an agreement for cooperation, established between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September 2015. But Moscow delivered advanced S-300 missiles to Damascus, after years of delay, while assuring the Israelis that the weaponry was not directed at them.

Israel has periodically fired missiles inside Syria during the 92-month conflict. Initial strikes focus on disrupting Iranian arms and missile transfers to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, another essential ally of the Iranian regime, and on Iranian-led and Hezbollah forces moved into the area near the Golan Heights.

Since early 2017, Israel has expanded strikes across Syria, particularly on sites connected to Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for the withdrawal of all Iranian personnel from the country.